This week, I had the opportunity to serve as a panelist for a wonderful series of learning sessions aimed at empowering women entrepreneurs to protect and grow their businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. The topic, “Finding and Keeping Customers”, was the second in the series presented by Achieving Women Enterprise and the AWE Foundation. Together with fellow panelist Lloyd Mathias, and moderator Shilpa Sirdesai, we engaged in a robust discussion centered on these five themes.
Don’t ghost your customers in the absence of face-to-face contact. Communicate regularly through email and/or social channels. Let your customers know you’re still there and which services you can still provide during the quarantine. If your business is on hiatus, let your customers know that too, as well as when you expect to reopen. If you have a unique perspective, share it. Show empathy, but don’t pander. Be relevant, be authentic. Be you. Some additional tips from Convince and Convert provide a deeper dive on communicating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now is the time to evaluate your skills and learn new ones. What are the most important skills for the future of your industry and your business? How can you use this time to adapt and grow your skills and those of your team? Remote learning opportunities have never been more available and new professions are emerging at an unprecedented pace. According to a recent PwC survey, “CEOs who have embraced the imperative of upskilling are realizing the rewards through impacts such as higher workforce productivity and innovation.”
Is your product a non-essential luxury item? There is still a strong market for products that make people happy, particularly when most activities and services are unavailable. If you make or market a product that can bring people joy, or makes a great gift, consider opportunities to reposition or find new markets in the COVID era. Lloyd shared a great example of how Shanghai Fashion Week went virtual and created a growth market for high-end fashion in the midst of COVID.
Is your lead-gen strategy dependent on trade show events and face-to-face relationship building? Take some time to test new, digital marketing strategies to grow your customer pipeline during COVID. According to Singular, gaming ad spend is up 25% as we shelter in place.
If in a position to do so, retaining and investing in strategic talent should be a key imperative. Tech leaders like Amazon and Zoom are aggressively recruiting top talent – but so are brick and mortar retailers such as Ace Hardware and Dollar Tree. The need for digital talent is especially acute. A recent study by the National Skills Coalition found that 1 in 3 American workers has limited or no digital skills. That means that even during a pandemic, this talent is scarce. Major brands realize this and are acting with urgency. You should too, if you can.
Nearly 80 women entrepreneurs participated in “Finding and Keeping Customers.” The Achieving Women Enterprise and the AWE Foundation, led by Seema Chaturvedi, will present 9 topics in total as a part of its “Business Building Blocks: Navigating COVID-19” series.
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About the AWE Foundation
AWE Foundation is a U.S.-based not-for-profit organization registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) foundation. We have global partners and are always interested in collaborating with like-minded individuals and institutions.